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Regular Press Conference of the Ministry of Commerce (17 June 2021)

Gao Feng: Friends from the media, good afternoon. Welcome to MOFCOM’s regular press conference. Today, I have two announcements to make.

Gao Feng: 1. China’s outbound investment cooperation, January-May 2021

From January to May 2021, China’s non-financial outbound direct investment (ODI) was RMB280.62 billion, down 5.3% year-on-year (US$43.29 billion, up 2.6% year-on-year). The value of performed overseas project contracts was RMB342.79 billion, down 1.6% year-on-year (US$52.88 billion, up 6.5% year-on-year), and the value of newly signed contracts RMB536.03 billion, down 10.9% year-on-year (US$82.69 billion, down 3.5% year-on-year). 134,000 workers were engaged in overseas labor service cooperation, and the total overseas labor force amounted to 600,000 in the end of May. The highlights include:

First, rapid investment growth and steady progress in contracting projects were observed in countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative. From January to May, China’s non-financial direct investment in Belt and Road participating countries reached US$7.43 billion, growing by 13.8% year-on-year. This amount accounted for 17.2% of the total non-financial ODI over the five months, up 1.7 percentage points. Newly signed project contracts and performed contracts in participating countries valued US$46.49 billion and US$30.8 billion respectively, accounting for 56.2% and 58.2% of the total values.

Second, outbound investment in multiple sectors showed sustained growth, and ODI from local investors accounted for nearly 80%. From January to May, ODI flowing into the manufacturing sector increased by 11.8% year-on-year to US$7.2 billion; ODI flowing into the information transmission sector jumped by 49.4% year-on-year to US$3.51 billion. ODI in areas such as scientific research and technological services; production and supply of electricity, heat, gas and water; transportation; and residential services was also on the rise. When it comes to the composition of domestic investors, local businesses contributed US$32.75 billion worth of non-financial ODI, up 3.8% year-on-year and accounting for 75.7% of the total ODI over the five months.

Third, overseas contracting projects focused on infrastructure, in which certain sectors showing positive trends. From January to May, Newly signed overseas infrastructure contracts undertaken by Chinese enterprises valued at US$61.8 billion, while the value of performed infrastructure contracts stood at US$42.66 billion, accounting for 74.7% and 80.7% of the total value of the two categories respectively. Over the five months, the value of newly contracted transportation, industry and water conservancy projects increased rapidly. The value of newly signed contracts and performed contracts of transportation projects grew by 37.0% and 11.8% year-on-year respectively.

2. China’s outsourcing sector, January-May 2021

From January to May 2021, services outsourcing contracts undertaken and performed by Chinese enterprises valued at RMB649,1 billion and RMB406.9 billion, up 39.0% and 30.8% from 2020, and up 34.7% and 42.9% from 2019. Offshore outsourcing contracts undertaken and performed by Chinese enterprises were worth RMB364.8 billion and RMB237.6 billion, up 25.9% and 24.4% from 2020, and up 19.2% and 37.6% from 2019. (In US dollar terms, from January to May, the value of services outsourcing contracts undertaken and performed by Chinese enterprises were US$96.5 billion and US$60.5 billion, up 42.1% and 33.4% year-on-year respectively. Offshore outsourcing contracts undertaken and performed by Chinese enterprises were worth US$54.4 billion and US$35.3 billion, up 29.5% and 26.9% year-on-year respectively)

Composition-wise, from January to May, offshore information technology outsourcing (ITO), business process outsourcing (BPO) and knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) performed by Chinese enterprises were worth RMB110.4 billion, RMB42.8 billion and RMB 84.4 billion, up 31.0%, 17.0% and 20.3% year-on-year.

In terms of regions, from January to May this year, the 31 demonstration cities of service outsourcing undertook offshore service outsourcing contracts worth RMB304.6 billion, with an executed value of RMB204.2 billion, both up by 23.0% and accounting for 83.5% and 85.9% of the national total respectively. The Yangtze River Delta Region outsourced offshore services worth RMB165.6 billion with an executed value of RMB121.4 billion, up by 13.5% and 20.9% and accounting for 45.4% and 51.1% of the national total respectively.

In terms of markets, from January to May this year, we executed offshore services from the US, HKSAR and the EU worth RMB52.3 billion, RMB46.7 billion and RMB30.0 billion, which combined accounting for 54.3% of our total executed value of offshore service outsourcing contracts. These three markets registered growth of 24.6%, 31.9% and 14.3% respectively. The offshore services outsourcing contracts undertaken from Belt& Road countries were worth RMB71.4 billion, with an executed value of RMB42.4 billion, up by 61.0% and 24.6% respectively.

In terms of companies, from January to May this yer, private companies undertook offshore service outsourcing contracts worth of RMB85.4 billion with an executed value of RMB56.9 billion, up by 42.8% and 37.5% year-on-year. Foreign-invested enterprises undertook offshore service outsourcing contracts worth of RMB187.6 billion with an executed value of RMB111.9 billion, up by 10.9% and 14.2% and accounting for 51.4% and 47.1% of the national total respectively.

In terms of employment, as of May this year, China’s service outsourcing sector created a total of 13.26 million jobs cumulatively, 8.41 million (63.4%) of these new workers were at least with a bachelor’s degree. From January to May this year, the service outsourcing industry created 353,000 new jobs, up by 18.4% year-on-year, among which 210,000 jobs were taken by those with at least a bachelor’s degree, accounting for 60.4% of the total.

With no further information to announce, now the floor is open for questions.


21st Century Business Herald: The second China-CEEC Expo was concluded in Ningbo on June 11. Could you brief us on the outcomes of the Expo and the measures to be taken to push forward the trade and economic cooperation between China and CEE countries?

The second China-CEEC Expo was successfully held in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province from June 8 to 11. As the first large event since the China-CEEC Summit under the cooperation mechanism between China and CEE countries, the Expo has yielded fruitful outcomes in the following aspects:

First, the exhibition area has been expanded. Covering an exhibition area of over 200,000 square meters, this Expo has attracted numerous exhibitors with diversified products. A total of 425 companies or agents from CEE countries, over 7000 buyers and purchase groups from 28 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions have joined the Expo. Second, the exhibition and trading events have been quite active. During the Expo, a total of RMB7.463 billion worth of purchase intention from CEE countries was reached, with food, beverages, alcohol, cosmetics, personal care products and commodities becoming the most popular among consumers. Third, this Expo has been combined with colorful supporting events. The China-CEEC dialogue mechanism on e-commerce cooperation and the China-CEEC alliance in the public health industry, as proposed by President Xi Jinping at the China -CEEC Summit this February, were officially launched during the Expo. In addition to that, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the General Administration of Customs, the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and other departments held more than 20 activities during the Expo, including forums, economic and trade negotiations and cultural exchanges.

This Expo has built a vital platform for China and CEE countries to jointly tackle the challenges of COVID-19 and promote economic recovery and development. It has helped the Chinese market deepen understanding about the products of CEE countries, boosted their confidence in working with China, strengthened their impetus to expand exports to China, and pushed for relevant parties to further tap into the cooperation potential on a broader scale.

In the next step, MOFCOM will keep capitalizing on the dividends of the China-CEEC Expo, focus on expanding imports from CEE countries and support Ningbo and other places in developing China-CEEC trade and economic cooperation demonstration zones. We will endeavor to unleash the potential of trade and economic cooperation between the two sides, and work with CEE countries to share in development opportunities and expand cooperation in the pursuit of common development. Thank you.

Nihon Keizai Shimbun: When covering the China-CEEC Expo last week, I found that Lithuania and Estonia didn’t attend the Expo this year. I’d like to confirm whether all the 17 CEE countries but the two attended the event this year. What is MOFCOM’s take on the cause of their absence?

Gao Feng: The China-CEEC Expo is a platform for open cooperation joined voluntarily by all parties. This year’s Expo featured products from all CEE countries, delivering fruitful results, including intentional purchases of CEE products worth nearly RMB 7.5 billion.

China would like to continue to expand imports from CEE countries, further explore the potentials of practical trade and economic cooperation with CEE countries and work with all sides to promote economic recovery and the wellbeing of all nations. Thank you.

CMG-CCTV: We have noted that recently MOFCOM is organizing CIIE exhibitors on investment promotion trips to certain localities. What are the specific considerations behind such activities?

Gao Feng: Three successful editions of the CIIE have been held, whose role as the four big platforms for international procurement, investment promotion, people-to-people exchange and open cooperation is increasingly amplified. While serving exhibitors and buyers, we are seeing stronger and stronger attraction of China’s huge consumption market for overseas companies and products. More and more overseas companies wish to move their products and services closer to the Chinese market and consumers. There is growing demand on the part of foreign companies for local operation through the CIIE.

To meet corporate demand and further magnify the spillover effect of the Expo and better leverage its role as an investment promotion platform by turning exhibitors into investors, in the coming weeks and months, MOFCOM will organize CIIE exhibitors, including FIEs and related agencies, on investment promotion trips to some localities under the theme of “Deepening Bringing in to Serve Dual Circulations”, so as to provide a more efficient connection platform for investors and hosts, further enhance the innovation and linkage of China’s supply system and smooth national economic circulation.

Under the principle of ‘locality play on CIIE stage in market operation’, the activities will feature special promotion and investment matchmaking with shows and displays and on-site visits. The first investment promotion event will be held in Chengdu, Sichuan Province in early July. The preparations are proceeding in an orderly manner. The event will cover equipment, healthcare, consumer goods, food, automotive and modern services and invite diplomats from embassies and consulates and representatives of business agencies. Held both on site and virtually, it will provide on-line connecting services while organizing in-person sessions. Thank you.

The Cover: We noted that MOFCOM has recently released China’s FDI figures of the first five months. What are the characteristics of FDI growth in China? What are the uncertainties in foreign investment attraction? How will MOFCOM implement the applicable policies going forward?

Gao Feng: FDI to China has been rising rapidly this year. In the first five months, the paid-in FDI to China registered RMB481 billion (not including banking, securities, and insurance), up by 35.4% year on year, and up by 30.3% from the same period in 2019. In dollar terms, its USD71.58 billion, up by 39.8%, and up by 31.1% from the same period in 2019. The statistics in the first five months indicate that foreign investors remain upbeat about China’s economic outlook and enormous market potential.

Currently, uncertainties in COVID-19 pandemic means global economic recovery remains precarious. Many countries have rolled out policies to support industries, which my cause multinationals to reconfigure their global industrial chains and supply chains. Movement of people and goods remain difficult due to COVID-19. These are all uncertainties to the FDI attraction in China, which makes the overall picture complicated.

Going forward, MOFCOM will act in line with the instructions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council to continue building platforms for high-level opening-up, ease market access for foreign investments, strengthen service support to priority foreign-invested enterprises and projects, and keep improving business environment so that more foreign investors can share the benefits of China’s rapid development. Thank you.

The Paper: MOFCOM has published the results of the comprehensive evaluation of service outsourcing demonstration cities and applicant cities in 2019 and 2020. How does MOFCOM views the results? How will MOFCOM promote the service outsourcing industry?

Gao Feng: At the beginning of the press conference, I gave an overview of the development of service outsourcing industry in the first five months of this year. Recently, MOFCOM has commissioned third-party agencies to carry out comprehensive evaluation of 31 demonstration cities and 19 applicant cities for the year 2019 and 2020, based on a comprehensive, systematic, open, impartial, scientific and quantified approach. The results of the evaluation have been made public.

The results show that the eastern regions have strong edges in industry development and overall innovation capability, while central regions have come a long way in industry development, thanks to their efforts to receive relocated industries fitting for their geographical advantage, intensify policy support, and enhance public services. The western region and northeastern regions have differentiated themselves by developing specialty and competitive industries, and have witnessed rapid growth in business volume. On the whole, the evaluation results are in line with the realities of service outsourcing industry in China and development expectations.

In the next step, MOFCOM, following the instructions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, will provide guidance to the demonstrations cities as they implement the Guiding Opinions on Accelerating the Transformation and Upgrading of the Service Outsourcing Industry. The important role of service industry in innovation-driven development and fostering new forms and new models of trade should be fully leveraged. The demonstration cities should play a leading role in emphasizing high-tech, high value-added, high quality, and high efficiency in the service outsourcing industry and drive high-quality development of related industries. To be specific, the first step is to accelerate digital transformation by employing digital technologies in new business forms and models such as crowd outsourcing, cloud outsourcing, and platform-enabled outsourcing. Second, encourage industry innovation and upgrading and promote high value-added business such as bio-Pharma R&D and industrial design. Third, optimize regional layout, improve the dynamic management mechanism of the demonstration cities, and add new cities in an orderly way. Fourth, improve public services, support the development of national public service platforms, and make the China Service Outsourcing Summit a success. Fifth, conduct studies related to service outsourcing to optimize resources allocation in a greater scope and wider area.

China Business News: In the first five months of this year, more than 18,000 foreign-invested enterprises were established nationwide, up 48.6% year-on-year and 12.4% compared with the same period in 2019, among which the paid-in investment from the EU increased by 16.8% year-on-year. Does this mean that China is still an important foreign investment destination despite the rising anti-globalization trend?

Gao Feng: Since the beginning of this year, China's foreign investment has achieved rapid growth, especially the number of newly established foreign-invested enterprises, which fully shows the recognition of foreign investors for China's business environment and their confidence in long-term investment in China.

As you mentioned just now, the paid-in EU investment in China increased by 16.8% in the first five months of this year. We have also noticed that the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China recently released the Business Confidence Survey 2021, which shows that among the respondents, 73% were profitable last year, about 68% were optimistic about the business prospect of their industries in the next two years, 60% plan to expand their business in China this year, and a quarter are or will soon strengthen their supply chain in China. Investors from all over the world, including European enterprises, have proven through actions that China is still an important destination for global foreign investment. Thank you.

Economic information daily: Recently, many foreign trade enterprises have reported that with the fluctuation of commodity prices, their cost pressure and risk of taking orders have increased. Has the Ministry of Commerce conducted research on the influence of these factors? Will MOFCOM take further measures to help foreign trade enterprises, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, cope with uncertainty in the future?

Gao Feng: Since the beginning of this year, the general rise in commodity prices have further increased the pressure on foreign trade enterprises in raw material costs and other areas. The Ministry of Commerce and other relevant departments have conducted extensive research on this. Recently, we have conducted in-depth research with relevant departments on 7,500 foreign trade enterprises through foreign trade and investment platforms, and have taken some measures with relevant departments and localities, such as promoting import diversification, building stable trade channels for commodities, etc.

In the next step, on the basis of strengthening and improving the policy effects of export credit insurance and credit support, we will continue to follow the trend of commodity prices and the production and operation of foreign trade enterprises, further optimize and improve trade policy toolbox, help foreign trade enterprises reduce costs and expand markets, and support various foreign trade enterprises, especially small and medium-sized foreign trade enterprises, in operating stably and developing healthily. Thank you.

Shenzhen TV: Since the beginning of this year, China's trade import and export to the EU and the United States have increased by 28.7% and 41.3% respectively in the first five months of this year. Is the degree of trade interdependence between China and the EU, and China and the US increasing?

Gao Feng: In the first five months of this year, China's bilateral trade with major trading partners, such as the European Union and the United States, kept a good momentum, which was mainly due to the continued release of market demand in relevant countries, which promoted the rapid growth of bilateral trade. At the same time, it also fully demonstrates the resilience and potential of bilateral economic and trade relations between China and its major trading partners. Thank you.

South China Morning Post: We note that the WTO recently announced that Japan had requested consultations with China regarding its anti-dumping duties on stainless steel products imported from Japan. What does the Ministry of Commerce have to say about this? Australia has filed a complaint to the WTO for tariffs on its barley exports, and will continue to take wine dispute to the WTO. Is China concerned that there will be more complaints against China in the WTO?

Gao Feng: On your first question, China has received a request from Japan for consultations. MOFCOM launched the anti-dumping investigations over stainless steel products imported from Japan in accordance with the law after receiving the application of the relevant domestic industries. Throughout the investigation process, the investigating authority has protected the rights of all parties, given all parties full opportunities to participate in the investigation, and taken corresponding trade remedy measures according to the findings of the investigations. It is regrettable that the Japanese side has requested consultations. We will deal with the matter properly in accordance with the WTO dispute settlement procedures.

Regarding the second issue you mentioned, the Chinese government has always firmly upheld the multilateral trading system and respected WTO rules, and our approach to foreign trade and trade remedy is consistent with WTO rules. China will properly handle the relevant cases according to the WTO dispute settlement procedures. Thank you.

Xinhua: We note that since the beginning of this year, products of Time-honored Brands have been sold well in a series of consumption promotion events during the Spring Festival and the online shopping festival for branded and quality products. What does MOFCOM make of it? What will MOFCOM do to further promote the innovation and transformation of Time-honored Brands?

Gao Feng: Boasting unique products, exquisite skills and service philosophies passed down for generations, Time-honored Brands have long been an important symbol of "Made in China" and "Services of China ", and a shining example for the wisdom of the Chinese nation's craftsmanship and professionalism.

In recent years, Time-honored Brands have followed closely the new trends of consumption, made use of information technology and other cutting-edge technologies, and constantly launched new products and services, creating a sound momentum of growth. Going forward, MOFCOM will take multi-pronged measures to reinvigorate Time-honored Brands. First, we will improve the policy framework centering on the protection, inheritance, innovation, and development of Time-honored Brands, improve the relevant policy measures, and establish long-term mechanisms to stimulate the vitality of innovation and transformation of Time-honored Brands. Second, we will build development platforms by opening counters in shopping centers and other offline channels and creating special sections in e-commerce platforms, encourage Time-honored Brands to use big data technology to continuously launch new products and services that better meet consumer needs, so that consumers can see, touch and taste the culture while shopping. Third, we will step up efforts to promote Time-honored Brands with a series of events focusing on traditional festivals while bringing in elements from local customs and traditions, so that consumers can learn the history of those time-honored brands and enjoy the splendid Chinese traditional culture.

Do you have any further question? If there are no questions, this is the end of today's conference, thank you.

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